When we think of dinosaurs, we tend to imagine huge beasts the length of several buses, or that had teeth the size of your arm. Beasts such as T-rex, triceratops and stegosaurus spring to mind, all of which can be seen in action at Dinosaur World Live, one of the most fun things to do in Huddersfield this summer.
But not all prehistoric reptiles were gigantic and fearsome – some were much smaller, standing less than a metre high. We’ve put together a list of the top five smallest known dinosaurs, so you can get to know some of the creatures at the other end of the scale. Take your time to read this one – the dinosaurs’ names are tricky to say!
Found in a Welsh quarry during the 1950s and only recently named as a new species, this dinosaur dates from the Late Triassic period, over 200 million years ago. It’s thought to have been about the size of a chicken, measuring just one metre in length (including its tail) and is one of the earlier meat-eating dinosaurs, called theropods. Its name, Pendraig, means ‘chief dragon’ in Middle Welsh, with the milnerae being a reference to Dr Angela Milner, who helped to relocate the bone specimens.
Another theropod, Compsognathus measured around one metre in length and had a body the size of a turkey. Fossils of the species, which have been found in France and Germany, suggest it weighed no more than about 3.5kg – that’s about the weight of a newborn baby! It walked on its hind legs, and may have been covered in feather-like structures. Its name means ‘elegant jaw’, and it lived around 150 million years ago in the Jurassic period.
Living in present-day Inner Mongolia in the mid to late Jurassic period, some 160-168 million years ago, Epidexipteryx hui measured only 44.5cm in length, and weighed between 164 and 391g. That’s less than a small bag of sugar! This dinosaur is thought to have been very birdlike, and its prominent feature was four long tail feathers that provided balance as the animal climbed trees. Epidexipteryx hui was probably not able to fly – if it left the ground at all, it would have glided rather than flown.
Another feathered and winged dinosaur, Anchiornis huxleyi is seen by several scientists as an evolutionary link between dinosaurs and birds. It lived in China in the late Jurassic period, and weighed between 110 and 700g, measuring no more than 40cm in length. Like other animals of the period, it’s thought to have been a glider rather than a flyer, but had long feathers on both the front and hind limbs. Scientists even know what colour it was, because pigment cells were found on some of the fossils. It appears to have been mainly dark grey and black, with a red crown (a little like a chicken’s) and white stripes on the wings.
One of the first feathered dinosaurs to be discovered, Microraptor zhaoianus measured up to 1.2 metres in length and had feathers on its wings and legs. Pigment cells on fossils suggest it was black with an iridescent hue, similar to modern-day starlings, and studies suggest these dinosaurs were capable of flight.
If you are looking for great days out in Huddersfield that help you learn more about dinosaurs, why not join us and experience a fantastic dinosaur show for kids? It’s an unmissable Huddersfield attraction, so book your tickets to Dinosaur World Live today!